• drugs;
  • non-absorbable antibiotics;
  • non-absorbable disaccharides;
  • sepsis


Background & Aims

Bacterial infections are among the most common and life-threatening complications in cirrhosis. Qualitative and quantitative modifications of the gut microbiota, dysfunction of the intestinal barrier and multiple immune defects are factors that contribute to a pathological ‘bacterial translocation’ (BT), leading to a higher susceptibility to infections in cirrhotic patients. Long-term therapies, commonly adopted in cirrhotic patients, may influence BT and modify the risk of infection in these patients. To investigate the influence of chronic therapies on the prevalence and microbiological characteristics of infections in cirrhosis.


Consecutive cirrhotic patients hospitalised from 2008 to 2013 were enrolled. All previous treatments were carefully recorded. Infections were actively sought out, patients were actively monitored for infection, and possible risk factors were evaluated.


Four hundred cirrhotic patients were included. The most frequent therapies were proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) (67%), non-absorbable-disaccharides (44%), beta-blockers (BBs) (39%) and non-absorbable-antibiotics (10%). Child-Pugh C (P < 0.001; OR 5; 95%CI: 2.6–9.9) and PPI therapy (P = 0.008; OR 2; 95% CI: 1.2–3.2) were found to be independent predictors of infection, and the use of BBs was a protective factor (P = 0.001; OR 0.46; 95%CI: 0.3–0.7). Cirrhotic patients with bacterial infection showed lower morbidity and mortality when taking BBs.


Proton pump inhibitors increase the risk of infection in cirrhosis and should not be prescribed in these patients without specific indications. In contrast, the use of BBs is associated with a lower rate of infection and attenuates the consequences of infections in cirrhotic patients.